Fashion, style and art are the ways we express ourselves: the way we showcase and celebrate identity, the way we define who we are. Especially for those whose identities are muted or changed by being on this campus, fashion and art are ways we can always be our authentic selves. Recently, I had the privilege of seeing this concept come to life in a magical way at EnspiRED’s art exhibit and performance series at the Taubman Commons last weekend. The level of artistry and beautiful self-expression in the room was, perhaps, the most important thing I have gotten to witness during my time here. The event featured all artists of Color and their artwork, project or performance piece — everything from drawings, to poetry, to dance, to photo and jewelry collections. I was so moved by the people and the stunning art that I asked Music, Theater & Dance senior Andrew Otchere, EnspiRED’s creative director, to do an interview with Daily Arts so that more people can learn about the organization and what it does.
As creative director, Otchere started his work back in June. His role oversees creating a vision, theme and aesthetic that work together harmoniously for the season. This season, Otchere chose the idea of Afrofuturism to base his work off of. His work includes directing photoshoots, producing and directing a virtual fashion show and overall management of the season.
“EnspiRED is an arts, fashion and charity organization on campus that hosts multiple events during the year that lead up to an annual fashion show,” Otchere said in an interview.
EnspiRED is made up of predominantly Black and Brown students, but is open to everyone. Though the group started as a mainly fashion and modeling focused organization, it has expanded its work to include more art forms in general like visual art and live performances. However, fashion remains the core of their work and mission, as it is arguably one of the most authentic forms of self-expression.
Otchere described EnspiRED as a community for students of color on campus and said he hopes it will continue to be a safe space for self-expression.
“I hope that when people think of EnspiRED, I hope for people within the Black community at the University of Michigan think of it as a safe and beautiful community space for us to come together, to feel comfortable and to have fun.”
Something special about art, and about fashion in particular, is that it creates community: Art and fashion bond people together because they are the truest forms of self-expression. EnspiRED has cultivated a space in which people can wear the clothes they want to wear and create the art they want to create.
Otchere explained “spaces like EnspiRED not only allow people to freely express and explore who they are and what they want to showcase to the world, but also give us an opportunity to appreciate Black artists and Black art”.
In a world that asks us so often to conform or change our identities, spaces and communities like EnspiRED gives individuals, especially students, a place to tell the world who you are on your own terms.
If you would like to learn more about EnspiRED, take a look at their Instagram page, @enspiredrunway, or send them an email at email@example.com. Their next event to be on the lookout for will be their annual fashion show on March 11th.
Style Beat Editor CC Meade can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org